Left and right combine for the Social Economy Alliance

Paul Belford Ltd. has created a new campaign for the Social Economy Alliance, a network of organisations working to create a more social economy in the UK. Blending images of prominent political figures, a series of posters calls for politicians to ditch traditional left-right notions of putting business against society

Paul Belford Ltd. has created a new campaign for the Social Economy Alliance, a network of organisations working to create a more social economy in the UK. Blending images of prominent political figures, a series of posters calls for politicians to ditch traditional left-right notions of putting business against society…

A lead partner in the Alliance is Social Enterprise UK, the body established to support the UK’s social enterprise movement. SEUK believes that cooperatives and social businesses hold many of the solutions to the UK’s most significant economic and social challenges – the aim of the newly-formed Alliance is to affect the way all political parties formulate social and economic policies in advance of the 2015 general election.

Aimed at MPs and Westminster opinion formers, the new campaign combines images of well know faces from the left and right of the political spectrum; the idea being that the SEA 2015 manifesto – which it hopes will be incorporated into the manifestos of the UK’s major political parties – reflects “The best ideas from the left & the right”.

“The number of social businesses is growing,” says Paul Belford. “At the same time, there is increasing anger among consumers at the tax avoidance schemes of the corporate giants. Given a choice, consumers are increasingly using their spending power to help build a better world.

“This campaign is part of a move to call on all the main political parties to support the social economy by building the recommendations of the Alliance into their manifestos. So the ads have to get noticed by politicians. The social economy has supporters from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. And that fact lead us to the insight that SEA’s recommendations contain good ideas from both the left and the right.”

The SEA, which is made up of organisations including enterprises, co-operatives, housing associations and social investors, says that “twentieth-century economic thinking in Britain has left business and society pitted against each other. Meanwhile, citizens and communities are getting on with creating solutions to tackle their social and economic problems together.

“Across the UK, more people than ever before are starting up social enterprises and buying from co-operatives. Social enterprises now have three times the start-up rate of traditional businesses, and account for 15% of all small and medium-sized enterprises. The number of co-operatives has increased by more than a quarter since 2009 with a combined turnover of £37 billion last year.”

There are five iterations in the new campaign, which runs online and as posters on the London Underground – Che Guevara is combined with Margaret Thatcher; Karl Marx with Boris Johnson; Mikhail Gorbachev with Winston Churchill; Fidel Castro with Ronald Reagan; and John Prescott with Angela Merkel.

Ads have also been created for the ticket gates at Westminster tube station. A political figure from the left, on the left-hand gate and a figure from the right on the right-hand gate. Here, Michael Foot is combined with Michael Gove, while Chuka Umunna appears with William Hague.

“When choosing subjects for the campaign, care was taken to match political figures with similar physical attributes,” says Belford. “For example, Gorbachev’s and Churchill’s bald head, Boris Johnson’s and Karl Marx’s somewhat shaggy appearance, John Prescott’s and Angela Merkel’s jowls etc. This allowed the combined images to be kind of weird double takes, making the viewer think a bit more.”

Agency: Paul Belford Ltd. Art Director: Paul Belford. Copywriters: Paul Belford, Dean Webb. More on the Social Economy Alliance at socialenterprise.org.uk – its manifesto is available here (PDF). See paulbelford.com

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